Minneapolis Unwired: 2.0 style marketing

Early Wi-Fi adopters in the pilot area (Seward Neighborhood mainly) have not been well-served. Service has been very intermittent since around Mother’s Day. At least one person I know has not been able to use Wi-Fi for at least a month. I believe users were warned of outages by US Internet but not that they would be without service for days or weeks.

To their credit, US Internet Wireless (USIW) is trying to rectify the situation and has refunded monthly fees.

Back in October, when USIW started selling accounts, I had some suggestions as to how a company might market Wi-Fi as they build out the network. Reading them over again, I realize I was trying to help them to transform sterile municipal wireless into something akin to community wireless.

I think the suggestions—listed below—are still viable and would result in more long-term profit than the current course USIW is following.

  1. Don’t charge anything for now. In fact, give us free accounts for a year and we’ll help you troubleshoot problems. [Plus, subscribers could keep their other Internet accounts until the network was official.]
  2. Start blogging about the deployment. In fact, start blogging about your company. Be as transparent as you can. Make sure the CEO is blogging. [Information about the deployment from both the City and USIW has been sparse at best.]
  3. Lend out your Ruckus Metroflex Wireless Access Gateway units. We’ll pay a deposit and return it in good working condition or buy it if we like the Wi-Fi
  4. Help us optimize service and set up networks in our homes. You will learn as much as we do and foster good will.
  5. Hold events at Wi-Fi hotspots in the pilot area.
  6. Give away some of the Ruckus units at the events. (Winners must prove they live in the pilot area!)
  7. Give away some of the 3-6Mbps accounts.
  8. Meet with the community to educate them about the Internet and wireless. Talk to PTAs, senior centers, trade groups, and neighborhood groups. Engage the people with how cool the Internet is. Don’t sell anything! In fact, answer questions honestly about the competition, and discuss the pros and cons of Wi-Fi.
  9. Start working on digital inclusion initiatives.
  10. Engage the open source and software development community in the Twin Cities. Attend Minnebar and Minnedemo and read the blogs.
  11. Give us cool lawn signs advertising our USI Wi-Fi connection.
  12. As you build out, give away some accounts in each neighborhood. Hold a street party with a raffle.

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